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Hindutva outfit attempts to honour murder accused

Dhananjay Desai

Dhananjay Desai  

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Organisers postpone award ceremony after police deny permission

Six months after Pune techie Mohsin Sheikh was bludgeoned to death, allegedly by activists of the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), Hindutva organisations in Pune have announced they would honour HRS chief Dhananjay Desai with ‘Hindutva Shaurya Puraskar [Hindutva Bravery Award]’.

The police have denied permission for the award ceremony, which was scheduled for Sunday.

Mr. Desai was initially scheduled to be awarded at a function on Sunday — Shivpratap Din Utsav — organised by Akhil Bharateeya Krushi Gou-seva Sangh president Milind Ekbote. However, after the police denied permission for the event, Mr. Ekbote said the ceremony would be postponed till Mr. Desai’s release. Mr. Ekbote, who contested the recent Assembly elections on a Shiv Sena ticket, is a former BJP corporator.

“It is not part of tomorrow’s agenda. Police have served us a notice to not hold the programme. It is against democracy... But he [Desai] will definitely be awarded when he comes out of jail. The award is not cancelled," said Mr. Ekbote.

Though initially Desai’s wife and father were scheduled to receive the award on his behalf, only a formal announcement will be made on Sunday. “Bhai [as Desai is locally referred to] will be given the award in person when he comes of out jail,” Milind Hambir, HRS’ head in Desai’s absence, told The Hindu.

The Shivpratap Din Utsav is celebrated to commemorate the killing of Adil Shah’s general Afzal Khan by Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The event was banned by the previous Congress-NCP government but the current government has rescinded the ban.

A resident of Solapur district, Mohsin was killed on June 2 allegedly by HRS activists when he was returning home after offering evening prayers in Pune. The HRS, however, said the award was not linked to Mohsin’s murder. “That is a recent incident. ‘Bhai’ has been dedicated to Hindutva all his life. He is being awarded for his sacrifice and contribution to Hindutva,” Mr. Hambir said.

Sadiq Sheikh, Mohsin’s father, expressed his “sadness” at the “disgraceful” development and said he was further disappointed in the State for letting a Hindutva leader accused of killing his son being felicitated at a public forum. He accused the BJP-run State government of furthering anti-Muslim interests. “Why is the State quiet? By not condemning such acts, the State is encouraging extreme elements and at the same time demoralising Muslims.”

The Sri Ram Sene’s Pramod Muthalik will be awarded the ‘Veer Jeeva Mahale’ award while a few lawyers will also be felicitated with the ‘adivakta’ awards.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 3:02:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hindutva-outfit-attempts-to-honour-murder-accused/article6689425.ece

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